Negotiator Claims Strike Settlement Will Not Cause New Inflation Circle
James J. Healy, professor of industrial relations at the Business School said yesterday that the longshoremen's contract he helped write would not compromise the Kennedy administration's anti-inflation program.
Newspaper accounts said that the dock workers' pay increases, including fringe benefits, amounted to five per cent. The President's Council of Economic Advisers has recommended holding pay raises in line with annual increases in productivity, in this case about three per cent.
"I think that the five per cent figure is based on some cockeyed reasoning," Healy said. "In any case, demonstrable inequities in longshoremen's standard of living necessitated a large pay increase."
"For example, the teamsters who haul cargo to the docks and the sailors who run the ships both have $100-per-month pension programs, with money provided by employers. Even the longshoremen on the West Coast receive $100. But the dock workers who load the cargo onto the ships got $85 per month," Healy said.
Congress Might Step In
Healy said that more major walkouts in the near future would almost certainly cause Congress to enact tough new anti-strike legislation.
"Congress' temper is very short just now. If we hadn't settled this strike, the government would probably have stepped in and dictated a contract. If there are any more major strikes soon. Congress is almost sure to provide for compulsory arbitration of all walkouts," he said.
But Healy questioned whether government action would "get to the root of labor-management problems." Instead he advocated a new approach to collective bargaining.
"It might be well for labor and management to follow the lead of Kaiser Industries," he said. Kaiser recently set up a board of advisers to meet with unions and management once a month and discuss such basic issues as automation and featherbedding as well as wage-hour disputes.
Employers and the International Longshoremen's Association agreed to the settlement last Friday after a 34-day strike against East and Gulf Coast ship-owners.